On the surface, the semifinal matchup between Novak Djokovic and Ernests Gulbis pits the over-achieving Serbian against Latvia's class clown.
However, public personae aside, these players have much in common. Both men have been known to play the cut-up on court. More importantly, they enter this match seeking the same thing, something they have never accomplished before.
Djokovic is trying to win his first French Open title. Gulbis is trying to reach his first Grand Slam final. His win over Tomas Berdych on Tuesday was his first win in a Slam semifinal.
Both men play aggressive baseline tennis and hit beautiful backhand winners down the line. But Djokovic is clearly the steadier player. Even Gulbis considers Djokovic the harder worker, the more serious one. He told SI.com's Beyond the Baseline that when they were teens training together in Germany, he could see that Djokovic was the more committed player.
“At 13 and 14, he was really dedicated...I used to practice and then that’s it. I would go to my room, I eat Nutella, I play PlayStation. He went to stretch and to go for a run. This was the attitude. He had the talent and the hard work. I had just the talent.”
Lately, Gulbis has also put in the work. But is it enough to defeat the talented, hard-working Djokovic?